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Before you Buy VoIP, Evaluate Your Network

Before you Buy VoIP, Evaluate Your Network

Certain useful business technologies, like VoIP, screen-sharing, and webinar platforms, require a lot out of your Internet connection. This means that you need to be sure that you have sufficient bandwidth to support these solutions. Today, we’re taking a look at how your business relies on having the appropriate bandwidth to support your operations, and how to find out if it does.

First, it will help to establish how bandwidth works.

How Bandwidth is Different Than Speed

Picture an escalator, going up, with a large group of people seeking to get to the second floor. As the escalator moves at a constant speed, each person ultimately reaches the top, one at a time. Now, imagine that instead of one escalator, there’s a row of them, all going up. While these escalators aren’t moving any faster, the entire group of people will get to the second floor more efficiently.

This is effectively how greater bandwidth allows faster data transfer speeds without the data technically moving any faster. A larger bandwidth just means that more data can be moved at once. However, this also means that you could potentially reach a point of diminishing returns if you invest in excessive bandwidth - remember, the data isn’t moving any faster with greater bandwidth, it’s just that more of it can move at once.

Therefore, if you invest in more bandwidth than your data requires, you are spending money unnecessarily - something that businesses are often prone to do.

Naturally, this is something that you should avoid.

How Bandwidth Can Influence Your Business

Your available bandwidth can have an impact on your business, simply by limiting what you can effectively accomplish at a given time based on what is going on at any given moment. While many of the tasks that go on during the normal course of business will use a minimal amount of bandwidth, some will take up much more - including VoIP calls, webinars, backups, and other processes.

However, you can avoid many complications that can result from insufficient bandwidth by taking some precautions - for instance, intentionally throttling some types of content to help conserve some bandwidth, or scheduling bandwidth-intensive tasks (like uploading a backup) to after hours, when there would otherwise be minimal use of the network.

It also helps to have an idea of your bandwidth requirements.

How Your Network Can Be Evaluated

There are numerous ways to estimate how much bandwidth you need. An Internet speed test can give you an estimate of where your business currently stands, when compared to your approximate network traffic. Speedtest.net is a good resource to turn to for this assessment.

This isn’t the only factor that should be taken into account as you look into adopting a VoIP solution, however. There are others that you need to consider as well, such as:

  • Mean Opinion Score (MOS)
    As an opinion-based metric, the MOS was once completely sourced from human feedback. As it applies to VoIP, it is sourced from algorithmic analysis of three different metrics (listening quality, conversational quality, and transmission quality) to give a score between 0 (or incoherent) and 5 (excellent quality). In business, the higher the quality of your calls, the better.

  • Quality of Service (QoS)
    Similarly to the MOS, your VoIP solution’s QoS is a major factor in how successful your implementation of VoIP can be considered, and is heavily influenced by your available bandwidth.

  • Jitter
    Jitter is the term used to describe any delays in the delivery of data packets over a network, creating choppy or lagging sound transmission. These packets are usually delivered at a fairly consistent rate, which is what you want.

  • Latency (or Ping Rate)
    This is the delay that results from information moving from one point to another, measured in milliseconds. This should be a fairly consistent and small number, but there are events known as MS spikes, where the time it takes for a signal (known as a ping) to be sent somewhere on the Internet and back from your network. Bigger numbers here can be problematic.
     
  • Codec
    When you are working with VoIP (or any other type of broadcasting) compression can help a little, but it can also cause degradation to your audio quality. When you’re making a call, you can decrease the quality to use less bandwidth, which makes the call harder to understand (defeating the purpose). A little compression is okay, but you don’t want to sacrifice the sound quality too much. In order to limit the compression that your data undergoes, you need to be sure to have enough bandwidth to accommodate it.

We Can Help by Evaluating Your Network!

In order for your business to function properly, you need to be sure that you have sufficient and consistent bandwidth levels. We can come to your business and evaluate your network, fixing any inconsistencies we find. Learn more about our services by calling 978-482-2020.

 

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Tuesday, January 21 2020

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